Category: getting to know Him

notes from a recent sermon on haight street dr derek and rev shoeless jo

“I release the words of The Father over your life! Let them thwart the false streams of words that His enemy has against you. The Words of the Father are life, they are His specific blessings over you. They are His passion and enjoyment of you. Let them wave over us and take off every false whisper or lie from below. The words of the father are gold over us, and cause us to shine as the sun. The words of the father are hope for us, for they are true and how he sees us. the words of the father cannot be erased or overcome–for once a word is spoken…the words of the Father are irrevocable and mighty. Receive…these are the words you know as true. They push of the accuser, they cause your insides to dance again, they make the lame parts of yourself whole–don’t forget the Father of all Life is speaking over your life at all times–believe receive and enter into the stream of word of Life over your life!!!!”

reverend shoelessjo dansa


abba, father

When you get to a new place and you don’t know where you’re headed, when everything is filled with uncertainty–your relationships feel dubious, your future filled with conflict or loneliness–this is the most perfect place that we can find Father, where we can discover the quality of fatherliness our lives have. Most of us would be hard-pressed to say, I’m filled with a sense of fatherliness. We either crowd our lives with activity or relationships to amend the sense of insecurity, or we succumb to despair or depression or some kind of passive state of dealing with things. They are flip sides of the same coin, ways of controlling our circumstances, whether by not engaging with them or by manipulating them.

Father lives in these places. He is the one who speaks into the void and says, Let there be light. But only after He has hovered above that void, considering, watching and most of all, being excited in what He is about to do. The moments offstage, the anticipation before the dance begins, is one of the most thrilling of all His creative acts. We are not very comfortable joining Him in this place, because we spend so much of it in anxiety rather than in wonder. We think it is an ambiguous place, but far from it: it is part of His intentional act of creativity.

I’m not speaking of the wilderness–although the wilderness has an offstage quality to it–but of the transition spaces in which He begins to get inspired about the new creation He is about to do. Too often we interpret those places as wilderness because we feel so alone. We are hard-pressed to know His presence in them. But where is he to be found? Not in the thunder or the lightning, but very very close, imagining, wondering,… thinking and whispering. It is a place of great mystery.

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

Romans 8:15

It is in the very places of anxiety that we are most supposed to know Father. These places are not there just so that we cry out to HIm; they are there so that we will experience Him, and we experience our own presence as favorite sons and daughters.

The quality of fatherliness is so poor in my generation. When I say fatherliness, I mean all the things that relationship with a Father means. It means a sense of security, a feeling of uniqueness, trust in authority and masculinity. It also impacts how we carry on fatherliness to the world: confidence to carve out our own dreams, stake our territory, care for others. Our creative willpower to say, “Let there be light!” with confidence and without fear of conflict, comes from a deep sense of fatherliness.

But for so many who never got this blessing, an earthly father who made us feel secure and inspired us to carry on into the world, we greet our lives with a great sense of anxiety. We get to the door of obstacles and unknowns and we either yield or bang on it with childishness. We had no one that said to us, “You’re mine!” so we do not know who we belong to.

I’ve for some time been thinking about the serious problems that come with a lot of the contemporary popularity of “child-led” education. In one local secondary school near me, teachers are not allowed to correct or discipline students even if they are misbehaving. They are simply to observe and then give students room to express their feelings. Something in this feels strangely fearful to me. I find that increasingly we are afraid of telling children how to live because we feel they have not been listened to enough; when it is, in fact, WE who are afraid and have not been listened to enough.

A mother and friend of mine recently shared with me that it scares children when they are given that much power to make decisions. They learn that their misbehaving or emotional outbursts earn them control and authority but deep down it scares them to have that kind of premature authority. This made so much sense to me, as I searched my own childhood and realized how anxious I was most of the time, how little direction, advice and correction I had from a dad, and in that place I tried to make it up on my own.

The world became a place in which I feared the next, feared the unknowns. I struggled with serious depression for about five years. I had so little quality of fatherliness. I was afraid of discipline, too, although deep down inside I was my own worst critic. We are meant to know His discipline because it brings us freedom and confidence–we only know ourselves truly when we are inside Him, His boundaries of Himself. We don’t know who we are outside of them–the world out there is too ambiguous. And so to make sense of it we often impose the harshest expectations on ourselves. The world outside of His dwelling is filled with a spirit of fear because creation is chaotic when it tries to live outside of Him. Thus children model this when they are given power to educate and discipline themselves.

The spirit by which I cry out Abba, Father, is my true self, who was reborn as a child of Abba. My ‘spirit of daughtership’ knows I am a child and I become relaxed in my place in the world. In this spirit we feel challenged and excited about who we are and where we are going. We yield and rest when it is time to listen and rest, we move from one day of creation to the next in anticipation and joy in the holiness of our work and relationships.

what is IT

The IT. The thing that is next, is out there. Have you experienced IT. The next level of Jesus incarnate. Have you looked in His eyes? Have you seen the next frontier–inside of you, in the world, in your relationships? The mysterious, wonderful IT. “It” is always in front of us.

Lest you think I am being a bit too mystical, what I mean by “it” is the thing you experience when you look at someone or feel something that seems like the next level of spiritual transformation, something you want. We all go around with this thirst. Why are we not searching for it with all our might? That is what is meant by the man who sold everything to search for the priceless pearl.

The priceless pearl is the IT.

I remember all the times I saw the IT. I said to myself, this is something new, this is something that is going to change my life, and I want it, no matter what kind of weird radical decisions I have to make in my life. No matter what it challenges inside of me. No matter how many safe things it risks.

So many of us just want more tools to learn how to cope with life, with our already existing reality. The IT is not something that helps us cope. The IT is going to rock your world, turn it upside down, rip open the cages, send us to bigger levels of Jesus in us.

Jesus wants to INCARNATE inside of us. He wants to be fully expressed, limbs, heart, mind and all. This is not a religious thing.

We all need more deliverance.

We all need more Holy Spirit.

We all need more healing.

We all need more understanding and discernment.

We all need more community.

We all need more Jesus.

We all need more freedom.

We all need more love.

We all need more vision.

We all need more repentance.

We all need more Jesus.

The package that it comes in may surprise you. It always surprises me. It is never a justification for where you are at. It may be some grace, some mercy and some kind eyes, but the IT will stir you, will bring you thirst for more.

Maybe it’s been so long for some of you; maybe it’s been so long to have experienced something that feels, tastes, smells like something you don’t know but you just have to have. Maybe you are just coping with life, coping with circumstances. It is not a method of coping. The IT is not a set of friends or jobs or circumstances that make you feel ok for being where you are at. Although at times those things are nice, they can soothe the balms of frustration at religion. They can help you live with your pain to an extent.

I am not talking about religion, something you go out and join. I am talking about a thirst for transformation. So many of us have gotten frustrated with church experiences, walked away and then found ourselves coping alone. If you are afraid of what people will think of you, if you are afraid of Christians and their judgments or others who will judge you for being more spiritual, the IT will drive you out of this fear. The IT will drive you into the arms of others who know HIM, to search for his living presence. The IT will challenge every thought, attitude, orientation. IT always comes as love.

The IT is the tree of life. One tree has a kind of knowledge, which often seems wise, which sometimes looks spiritual and you can live with it because it satisfies your thoughts about being right or even being Christian. The other tree, the tree of life, is the presence of Jesus. When you step towards it, it is filled with His presence. You all know what it means to breathe the air around this tree, even if it has been a long time since you breathed it.

The IT sometimes comes when you are least expecting it. It sometimes comes when things come crashing around and you are desperate. The IT sometimes comes when you are running backwards. But the IT always is there, whether you are actively looking for it or not. The IT can most certainly be chased, however. We can always choose between the two trees.

The IT is an experience I like to call looking in the eyes of Jesus. Have they penetrated you lately? They will shake you to your core. None of us are there, but are we chasing it? Really. Until we get to the place where we want to resurrect people from the dead, where the thoughts, ways, hopes, dreams, inspirations from the atmosphere of Jesus are pervading every area of our life, we need more.

The IT is itchy feet, an itchy heart.

If you catch the IT, just the mere whiff of it, pursue it at all costs. You will not be disappointed. It will bring joy, freedom, vision, and cast off scales from places you didn’t even know scales existed.

suffering and redemption

Last year we went on a road trip with a bunch of friends to California, and we felt like there were specific things that needed to happen, connections to be made–and especially on a road trip, especially when you have about 15 people to consider, there are always blunders, mishaps, bad timings, etc. Derek is all about timing too–knowing the right time for the right thing, but not everyone has this same sense of timing and choreography.

We got really frustrated at one point with the direction things were taking, and were trying to figure out ‘how to get back on track’ with what we thought was supposed to happen, when God gave us a funny word: “commit your way and keep moving forward, even if it seems like it’s not the way it was supposed to be…. get to know me in redemption”.

We sat in the car and thought of all the friends we were on the way to visit, the stories they had–most of them are real leaders in their communities but all of them have really hard stories, stories of imperfection and weakness… and all of them limping in one way or another. But all of them have a kind of humility I admire, where there is a willingness to accept suffering and walk through it with dignity.

And the redemptive story he is telling through them is really sweet and beautiful. That trip taught us so much about redemption… obviously it was not the perfect plan that we kicked ourselves out of the garden, but even in that moment, there was a backup, a plan B, so to speak, that would end up becoming and still is becoming, the entire story of his creation. The remaking of all things new.

I started to learn that trip about the place of suffering is really the place from which we reach the most amazing heights… I think about the 2nd temple… its glory was greater not because it looked better but because it had been built with ‘burnt stones’…. and so the rejoicing and gratefulness was far more spectacular than had ever been seen in the bajillion-dollar temple that Solomon built.

Obviously when we’re in it, when we’re in the suffering parts, it’s so hard to see the other side of things. How to be grateful at all is beyond me, let alone how not to get bitter. But I am seeing it, even now, in some of my friends–the fight not to get depressed or lonely or anxious. And that fight is so worth it, because when they get to the other side of things, or even from the midst, they have so much to teach us about beauty and hope.

This past weekend I visited the Ground Zero site in New York. I have never felt the presence of God so strongly as I did at that place. It was almost as if the Holy Spirit was hovering or brooding over it, almost like he did at the beginning of creation. There is a not-yet in that space, where cranes, drill and concrete trucks are beginning to complete the foundation of what will be there. There was something in there that had hope but also an intense suffering, and Jesus loves to dwell in those places. His presence is actually thick in suffering places. It reminded me of what David wrote– ‘even if I make my bed in hell, you are there’

He is so present in your suffering… there is no place he hasn’t been. You may not feel his presence but he fills those places with himself, and He will resurrect from your devastation. He will come up out of his own grave, and so will you.


I have always liked having secrets.

And Mary hid these things in her heart.

I think it is a woman thing. Women like to hold things and sometimes in a somewhat martyrish way for long periods of time without really speaking their heart on matters. But the beauty of this holding is also in the way a woman can wait and wait until the fullness of something shows itself. (After all, this is sort of a requirement with childbirth!)

But I remember when I felt like God gave me a secret. It was at the beginning of me getting to know Him, or wanting to know Him, and I just wanted to have something that told me I was special. Secrets are like that when you’re a little girl–sometimes we used them against other people–but you inherently like them because they are something that you have, something special, that requires a key to enter.


notes from my past

Yesterday I was going through old pictures… it was time to do that because I’m really trying to weed out stuff we don’t need. I found things that I shouldn’t have kept anyway, but some of them really reminded me of how far God has brought me. In some of them I could visibly see a cloud of depression over my face. (Did not help that all I did was wear black and brown.)

When I was 27 I had this mission to move to San Francisco. I spent the whole year saving up and getting rid of things and plotting what to do when I got there. At the time I was a writer for a newspaper in Ohio and probably thought I’d do something like that in California but I wasn’t going for a job. I just needed something, anything. I really hated my life. I knew God but I was definitely not excited by him or anything that looked Christian. The whole Christian experience seemed really boring to me. I had a religious upbringing but it definitely was not enough. Just knowing about God was not enough. Reading my bible and all that was not enough. I had friends that tried to get me to church but that was never enough.


Already Rejoicing!!

The mother of Samuel, the first great prophet, prayed, “ I overcome my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.” At the start of this great prophet’s life, a mother is rejoicing in her victory. This is the secret of overcoming–to rejoice that He has already done it. Not only does this engage faith, it also declares truth. This was before Samuel her son was even born. We declare victory before experiencing it! So that it becomes clear to all the guard, that it is His cross which wins–it is God who overcomes, and waits for us to claim it!

It is not just that praise lifts us into the heavens by spiritual law; it is that God has already overcome all the areas of stress and turmoil in our lives by His Son’s death. We claim it by rejoicing in it, or as the old folks used to say, by “reckonin it so”. When we reckon that what God says is true, we start to experience it as true. It is true, of course, even before we experience it, but as people, we like and need to experience the actual practical overcoming of Christ.

The way into victory is always death. By death, I mean death to ourselves thinking we can, in our own power, overcome anything! We simply cannot. A key to spiritual growth is starting in this place of death in each area, then going on to His resurrection. We must pass through the deaths of the Jordan to enter the promises of our lands! As the Jordan river was a type of Jesus death, it was also a type of His resurrection–as the waters of the Jordan were rolled back all the way to the city of Adam when the people crossed over! We, too, will see the waters of death rolled back when we enter this baptism of death and ressurrection experientially through our faith in the power of His Cross.

The key is that he had the priest and Judahites singing praises–they were already rejoicing in the crossed over state, before they got there! That is hannah’s secret as well. When we need to cross over, we are to enter the jordan and rejoice–that is the way to overcome pornography, greed, fears, self hatred and on and on. Jesus has rolled back the waters through His cross, but we must rejoice. That is our mitzpah or command in the Spirit–to rejoice, to reckon it done by Christ!

reading the symbol of the Jordan

reading the symbol of the Jordan River…

The Jordan river represented the death and work on the cross of Christ–recall the waters were turned back to the city of adam. This is a different river than the Red Sea which was about deliverance from our Egypts. This is about receiving the land!

The priest had to be fully dead to stand in its center. As we approach the land promised to Christ, we must be fully IN Him–all must die that is not in Him, and be placed on His cross.

The book of Joshua gives us a map, not just of where we are at locationally in history, but also what we must go through in order to enter our “lands”. Every area of our lives must go through a death and resurrection in order to cross the Jordan.

The priest, levites and judahites crossed over first. So they had to go through this death to self first. Christ of course experienced death before all of us–He alone could roll back the waters of the Jordan all the way to Adam, so that we might be able to die also, and begin to recieve His inheritance.

Any and every area of our lives which has not experienced the baptism of the Jordan will, if we are going to go into the lands He has promised.

Many of those being asked to enter their “lands” are also having to go through many deaths currently. This is a good sign that we are entering the baptism of the Jordan. The more He brings up in us areas not yet dead, the better. It is a privilege to die first. it is, in fact, like Christ–who is the only one who could really die first. We join Him in His death, so that we may be in and with Him as He receives His lands through us!

Remember also that the general body or other tribes were 2000ft back. Just as we are about 2000 years back from Christ death. He went first as we are being asked to do. We must not turn and ask those not yet near the banks to die. They will see the glory and follow! The general Body of Christ is being asked to prepare to approach the Jordan, but others are at its edge. It is good to be exactly where He has each of us!